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How’s Your Love Life?

January 18, 2010

As I was cleaning my apartment Sunday afternoon I watched one of my favorite movies: “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” As always there were many moments I could relate to personally. (Like all the references to verbal diarrhea.) But one of the parts that stood out today, now that I’m single again, was Bridget’s aversion the question, “So how’s your love life?”

Now, I haven’t been getting this question a lot lately because I haven’t been meeting a lot of new people, but even over New Years I ran into an old acquaintance who asked, “so are you married with kids and all that?”

When conversations go this direction they always get frustrating pretty fast.

“Are you married?”

“No.”

“Seeing someone?”

“Not right now. I’m single”

“Why?”

Then I shrug, try to change the conversation topic and do my best not to curse. But on the inside I’m instantly furious. I think it’s incredibly rude to ask someone why they are single. It implies there’s something wrong with them that they need to figure out and fix.

And I just wonder, do people think about this question before they ask it? And really, why is this an okay question to ask someone?

Why aren’t you married?

I dunno, why are you married? Why did you have kids? How’d you get anyone to marry you anyway?

Not very nice questions, right? Just asking the question kind of implies that there might be something wrong with the person being asked — right?

I usually get asked why I’m single at church, and I have a hard time not responding with, “well, gay marriage is illegal in our state” — or something a church person would find equally offensive. Like, “because I like to have sex with strangers.”

People even ask this question about me when I’m not around. My sister ran into some people who are from my parent’s hometown and as soon as they found out my sister was single they moved on to asking about my status.

“How about your sister? Is she married?”

And then she got the look. The combination of a head tilt and eyebrow furrow full of pity and condescension. Every time I get that look all I can think of are snarky comments to protect myself from the judgmental gaze.

That’s right you are so much more accomplished than me because you managed to get married and have babies. Thank you for lowering yourself enough to talk to me. And I appreciate you caring enough about something as broken as me long enough to feel sorry for me. You are obviously a better person than I.

I have never asked someone the question, “Why are you single?” Or “why don’t you have kids?” Or “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” So I have no idea what a person might really be thinking at such a moment.

Sometimes I can tell that the comment is meant as a compliment. Like they still have the idea that being single means there’s something wrong with me, but they can’t imagine what it is that’s wrong with me. Like they’re trying to say, why are you single, there’s nothing wrong with you…is there?”

Well, I don’t think there is anything wrong with me; except, of course, the fact that I’m annoyed that people keep asking why I’m still single.

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